Mad Hot Ballet Gala 2017
Photography by Ernesto Di Stefano for George Pimentel Photography

Mad Hot Ballet Gala 2017: A Look at the Hottest Dance Event of the Year

This past Tuesday, Toronto’s most stylish commingled with The National Ballet of Canada dancers and staff for the company’s annual fundraising event, the Mad Hot Ballet Gala at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, which raised over $1.3 million for the company. This year’s rendition, entitled Northern Lights, was an ode to Canada’s 150th birthday and celebrated Canadian talents of the past and present, including Rex Harrington, Veronica Tennant, Frank Augustyn and Evelyn Hart. Canada wasn’t the only one celebrating a milestone anniversary, though: Greta Hodgkinson (who performed Nuages) and Xiao Nan Yu (who danced The Sea Above, The Sky Below) were marking their 25th and 20th years with the company, respectively.

The gala kicked off with a presentation of six diverse pieces, including classical ballet ones and those with a contemporary edge: Surge, Tarantella, a Pas de Deux from Coppélia, Nuages, a Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire and The Sea Above, The Sky Below. For the latter, principal dancer Xiao Nan Yu wore a red floral-printed-tulle dress designed by Canada’s own Erdem.

After the performance, almost 2,000 guests were treated to a cocktail reception, which included photo booths, drinks and sweet and salty treats. It was a feast not only for the bellies but also for the eyes, as men and women donned gorgeous evening attire, with more than a few sequins, embroideries and trains spotted. Dancers, usually in tutus and stage costumes, donned equally glamorous off-stage outfits, but try as they might have to blend in, their impeccable posture was a dead giveaway. A silent auction also took place, and guests bid on luxe prizes including a chance to travel to Paris to tour with the company.

If the performance wasn’t the pièce de résistance, the dinner was: The stage was transformed into a dining area where guests, including revered dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, enjoyed a meal prepared by Executive Chef Sash Simpson of Mark McEwan’s North 44 Caters. Afterwards, dancing ensued, and for many it would be as close as they’d ever get to mimicking the life of a ballerina/o.

See some of the gorgeous looks of the evening below:

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